Duncan Garner: It's time to completely shut New Zealand's border - returning Kiwis included

OPINION: Sixty-four thousand people - two stadiums chocka. Picture it. Jam packed.

That's the number of New Zealanders that have returned to the country since lockdown.

We are weak and vulnerable at the border and in quarantine. Herding that number of people has proved impossible but by accident we made it happen, kind of.

Sadly, the numbers in quarantine just keep rising as Kiwis meander and dawdle home some 90 days after we went into lockdown, and even longer since we were warned it was time to come home.

It was way back on March 18 when Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said, "If you can get home - come home now".

I think those that are still returning are taking the mickey and putting all our sacrifices at risk. New Zealanders have had plenty of time to get their backsides home if that was their intention.

We have been more than accommodating and generous. I believe now is the time to totally shut the border to everyone - returning Kiwis included.

Just for three months.

Because, as you know, we now have 20 cases all of a sudden.

The border is our flimsy pandemic frontline. COVID-19 breached the border to arrive here and COVID-19 came back through the airport to kick start the next round.

Yes, I know legally it's difficult, but country before individual. It's not like these people have raced home - they've all taken their time.

So, sorry, time is now up.

And to those 80 New Zealanders who have returned and refuse to be tested - they should be made to stay an extra month in a hotel at their own cost. And here's a number that will knock any complacency - one million people across the globe are catching the virus now every week.

Health experts are thinking this is now more like the deadly Spanish Flu of 1918 that killed 50 million people. It came in waves - wave after wave - and as soon you relaxed social distancing rules, it came back.

I don't want to go back to tighter alert levels - it would crush us socially and economically - so let's start by closing the border to everyone.

Duncan Garner is host of The AM Show